20. Real Estate (Days)
Real Estate’s second album ever is certainly no sophomore slump.  If anything, they improved off of their self-titled premier.  The vocals are light and the guitar seems to put the listener into a pleasant trance.  “Green Aisles” is one of the best tracks of the year, as it seems to pick up and tear down intensity with relative ease.  The New Jersey – turned Brooklyn indie rockers certainly did this album right, deserving it’s spot among the best of the year. -Boswell Hutson

 

19. Toro y Moi (Freaking Out)

2011 was all about the Chill Waves. Toro excelled like many others this year, but his singles set him apart. He released an EP a few months after this album that kept us filled with all the Chill Waves we could possible want. Oh, and he was pretty awesome at Pygmalion. Chill Wave. -Kyle Rogers

 

 

 

 

18. Cut-Copy (Zonoscope)                                                                   

Australian dance act Cut Copy had a tough task in following up 2008’s In Ghost Colours. With tracks that can and do stay in your head for days like the brilliant “Heart’s on Fire,” Cut Copy became dance darling’s. Zonoscope is a well polished record that builds on Cut Copy’s formula with only subtle changes. Perhaps the most welcoming being the introduction of Chicago house on “Pharoes and Pyramids.” A vocal ensemble was used throughout to complement lead singer Dan Whitford, and it only added to the record’s epic moments. Zonoscope certainly lacked the pop bangers of Colours however, there isn’t a single weak track on here making it 2011’s quintessential dance record. -Jose Tamayo

 

 

17.  The Dodos (No Color)

With No Color, the Dodos make a mark using their inventive, percussion driven folk sound. They even brought in Neko Case to do some backing vocals, giving the album a feminine touch that comes through beautifully on tracks like “Going Under,” and “Don’t Try to Hide It.” Overall No Color is a pleasant and energetic album, and if you saw The Dodos’ Pygmalion set this year, you know what I’m talking about. -Madeline Rehayem

 

 

 

16. Those Darlins (Screws Get Loose)

These southern gals (and Linwood Regensburg, the lone dude) play some dirty rock ‘n roll. Since 2009 they have been sexing up the music scene with their femininely fearless take on music. It’s not a shame to take a listen solely for their pleasing aesthetics but you’ll definitely enjoy the talent on this album. Plus, with lyrics like “I just wanna be your brother, you just wanna be my boyfriend. I just wanna run and play in the dirt with you, you just wanna stick it in”, there’s no way you can listen to Screws without smiling. There’s something impressive about the simple yet honest dose that Screws Get Loose gives us. -Natalie Wontorczyk

15. tUnE-yArDs (w h o k i l l)

tUnE-yArDs, musical brainchild of Merrill Garbus (singer, songwriter, ukelele player), continues to break records for unique-ness in the release of their second release w h o k i l l. A collaboration of all things good, that is to say funk, R&B, patriotism, folk, pop, experimentation and rock, along with Garbus’ controlling and rich voice, this album is simply too quirky and wonderful to describe. Just listen to it, okay? – Lise Graham

 

 

14. Atlas Sound (Parallax)

Bradley Cox’s most current installment of his solo side project, Atlas Sound, is the best one yet. Parallax never made indie sound so greatly catchy. With wonderful songs like  “Te Amo” and “Mona Lisa” Atlas Sound establishes a great sound while creating an intimate relationship between the artist and the listener. -Joe Winner

 

 

 

 

13. Yuck (Yuck)

The guitar effects range from the harnessing of feedback and fuzz on the final track “Rubber,” to slow and descending slide guitar playing.  On stage the band can look stiff and emotionless, while interviewers seem to have trouble getting the band to talk.  But the mood fits the songs and the album says everything. -Stan Polanski

 

 

12. The Mountain Goats (All Eternals Deck)

John Darnielle is a master of the spiritual, and his narratives of human imperfection somehow give hope.  Somewhere between the metaphorical vampires and decaying pop stars on this album named after a rather insignificant tarot deck, a men’s chorus urges us to “rise if [we]’re sleeping–stay awake” for this is a world of betrayal and unhappy endings, yet maybe in this world you’ll find some beautiful nugget handed to you by a crazed guitar player with a strained voice that will give you the spiritual energy you need to carry on. -David Christians

11. The Decemberists (The King is Dead)

The Decemberists switched it up just enough for this album. Adding a bit of twang to some of their tracks made The King is Dead quite refreshing to listen to. Catchy singles “Down By The Water” and “This Is Why We Fight” exemplify this: simple, folksy, back-to-basics songs with sing-along choruses. –Madeline Rehayem

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